7 Sep 2017

What are the sleep requirements of Early Birds vs Night Owls?

Are you an early riser, ready to take on the world with abundant energy at the crack of dawn? Or do you prefer to sleep in, and then power on way past midnight? These two alternatives really divide the population when it comes to preferred time to be awake, however how does each affect how much sleep is required to get the best quality rest?

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is an essential part of maintaining both physical and mental health, and while people’s habits can differ, the average required sleep for an adult is around 7-9 hours every night.1

During these hours, we progress through a variety of stages, from light sleep, to REM and deep sleep cycles, each refreshing our bodies and minds for the following day.

Approximately 10% of the population are early rises, and 20% are late setters2, with the rest of us fitting somewhere in between, but with these varied times, how does that impact sleep?

Understanding Your Sleep - ResSleep

Sleep Characteristics: Early Birds vs Night Owls

What appears to be the difference in our sleep patterns3 4?

Morning people:

  • Tend to have a shorter duration entering into non-REM sleep
  • Are less capable of resting later in the morning
  • Often experience more frequent awakening times during the night
  • Have a peak in melatonin production earlier at night
  • Have a shorter circadian cycle
  • Waking occurs later in the circadian cycle, meaning that they are more alert soon after waking
  • Go to bed earlier to sleep longer

Evening people: 

  • Have a peak in melatonin production much later at night
  • Have a longer circadian cycle
  • Wake closer to minimum temperature
  • Are more adaptable to nightshift work and changing time zones
  • Wake later to sleep longer

That being said, while the characteristics of how we sleep vary, the actual requirements of sleep between the two types of people really isn’t that different in comparison.

Sleep Is All About The Duration and Quality

There is little scientific evidence definitively proving that the time of which you get in and out of bed every day makes a significant difference to overall health.

When it comes down to it, obtaining quality sleep each night really is the most important factor, regardless of whether you prefer early mornings and late nights. So long as you are getting the average 7-9 hours of quality rest, then you are on the right track.

The Eight Ways To Improve Your Sleep

How do we get the right amount of quality sleep each night? We have created a free eBook, called the 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight, which explains the eight best ways to improve your sleep in order to keep your energy levels high and your body healthy.

Take A Free Sleep Assessment

If you are having issues with the quality of your sleep, you can take the first steps with our free online sleep assessment.

Take ResSleep's FREE sleep assessmentGet a better understanding of your sleep issues with a free sleep assessment.


[1] http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf

[2] Neuroimage. 2014 Jan 1;84:428-34. ‘Early To Bed, Early To Rise’ study. Epub 31 August, 2013.

[3] My Virtual Medical Centre. ‘Sleep Physiology’. https://www.myvmc.com/anatomy/sleep-physiology/. Accessed 15 August, 2017.

[4] ABC Health and Wellbeing. ‘Five sleep myths busted.’ http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2014/10/08/4102767.htm. Accessed 15 August, 2017.